I’ve been leading teacher trainings at MOSAC for five years now. From time-to-time, I’ve asked practitioners if they have considered doing a teacher training. One of the most common answers I receive is, “I’m not good enough, or experienced enough to do that yet.” The truth is you don’t have to be. In fact, it may be better that you’re not.

The first time you take a yoga class is like being asked to play Simon Says in a foreign language. So as the teacher is calling out pose names and cues you look to your left, right and all around to find the few people that seem to know what they’re doing and you copy them. The problem is, the people you’re watching probably did the same thing, and the ones before them. If somewhere along that line there wasn’t proper instruction you could be learning movement that does more harm than good.

It takes approximately 10,000 repetitions to create a movement pattern and about 30,000 to rebuild an old one. This is why it may be better to take a Yoga Teacher Training course when you’re relatively new to the discipline. You will learn the correct way before you’ve had time to build a bunch of faulty patterns thus avoiding the need to work three times as hard to correct them.

When you first enroll in medical school, you don’t start by performing surgery. That would be crazy. When you want to be a pilot, you don’t get in the cockpit and fly for a couple years before you ever sit down and read about aerodynamics and basic rules of flight. Nor should you spend years on a yoga mat without ever learning about reciprocal inhibition, proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation, counter poses, autonomic nervous system function, joint structure etc.

I can hear you saying, “Ryan, its a little bit different then surgery.” For starters, you have an instructor telling you what to do. This is true, so a better analogy would be that you and 20 other students perform surgery while one experienced surgeon moves around telling you what to do. Even the best surgeon wouldn’t be able to see everyone all the time, just like your yoga teacher can’t.

So what about those long time yoga students? Are they a lost cause because they’ve built all their movement patterns? Absolutely not. While it may be more difficult for experienced practitioners to sometimes learn new motor patterns it doesn’t make it less important. The continuous repetition of a movement that is not in proper alignment can lead to pain and injury. Correcting these patterns regardless of your experience is important to sustaining a regular routine. Additionally, many practitioners who have been doing yoga for years have had very little exposure to the philosophy, history and art of yoga. Enrolling in a teacher training course gives them an ability to learn more about the larger discipline of yoga and how they can apply it to their already existing practice.

A 200-hour course is a great place to deepen your own practice regardless of your experience and the perfect place to begin to explore the possibility of teaching others. There is so much wisdom to yoga that can’t make it’s way into a 60-minute vinyasa flow class. While there are a myriad of benefits to the asana practice everyone should consider a yoga teacher training course, even beginners.